Today, Enough


Dear President Obama,

It has been a bloody year.

A gunman enters a school in Newtown, Connecticut where children are supposed to learn, where they are supposed to be safe, and he guns them down. We do not yet know the extent of this tragedy, but we can begin to imagine and it is horrifying.

A gunman enters a mall near Portland, Oregon where people are shopping for the holidays, for themselves, it doesn’t matter. They are supposed to be safe. The gunman randomly shoots. Two are killed, one is injured.

A gunman enters a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. People are there to worship and commune. They are supposed to be safe. Six are killed, three are injured.

A gunman enters a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. People are eating popcorn, watching a highly anticipated movie. They are supposed to be safe. The gunman guns them down. Twelve are killed, fifty are injured.

The facility with which we can recite the details of these tragedies speaks to how utterly, shamefully common they have become. We do not have the luxury of wondering if there will be another mass shooting in the United States. Instead, we wait for when there will be another mass shooting. We wait to learn the scope of this latest tragedy. We have to somehow reconcile that while gun ownership is an inalienable right in this country, safety from gun violence is not.

Today, and not tomorrow, we are waiting for you to step up because you are the president. We are tired of tomorrow as the better time to talk about gun control. We have run out of tomorrows, President Obama. We cannot afford to wait any longer.

We are struggling to make sense. We are crying out for change, for a mental health care system that can truly help the people who soothe their inner torment by reaching for weapons of such destruction. We are crying out for gun control laws that, at the very least, make it more difficult for such tragedies to occur. We are sick with grief and smallness and fragility.

How much blood needs to be spilled before you take a stand? How much blood needs to be spilled before you say, “Enough.” You are a father. You have always shown us that your fatherhood is part of what guides you. You are also a human being. You are our leader, the President of the United States. Today, not tomorrow, we need you to lead. Today, we need you to say, “Enough.”

Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, the New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Time, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, and many others. She is the co-editor of PANK. She is also the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, and Hunger, forthcoming from Harper in 2016. Roxane is Essays Editor Emeritus for The Rumpus. You can find her online at More from this author →